BRITISH drivers have been hit with near-record amounts of parking fines despite the traffic fall because of the pandemic. 

New figures reveal 1.95 million motorists were fined in first quarter of the 2021/22 financial year - compared with 497,678 in the first quarter of last year when lockdown was at its height.

AlamyTraffic has fallen yet parking fines are at near-record levels, according to reports '/ '

The Daily Mail reports if this year’s increase continues for the next three quarters, it will near the record high of 8.4million tickets issued in 2019/20.

With fines capped at £100, private firms have reportedly issued demands for up to £840million in 2019/20 and £195million in the first three months of this financial year.

Analysis by the RAC Foundation also found the number of parking firms has grown by two-thirds in the past five years.

Car ownership records held by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency were accessed by nearly 159 companies so they could issue penalties.

This is up from 97 in 2016.

AA spokesman Jack Cousens said: “What is incredible about these figures is that they coincide with a collapse in traffic during the pandemic. 

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“Even now, car traffic is still down around 10 per cent compared with pre-Covid levels.

“Sadly the activities of some private parking companies mean drivers are so sceptical and nervous when they receive a parking charge notice that many just pay it as soon as possible to avoid any hassle even if they did nothing wrong.”

Under proposed new laws, a Government-sanctioned code of practice will have to be obeyed by the industry.

There will be a single appeals service and a system of charges and penalties that would be more in line with those levied by councils.

But the law is awaiting ministerial sign-off.

The regulations aim to clamp down on the ruthless practices of some private firms, which run car parks at motorway services, train stations, hospitals and shopping centres.

It comes after traffic wardens were told they must fine more drivers for parking after council lost £8,000 in six months

And some motorists were hit with £70 fines after one claimed they were charged £10 by fake parking attendants.

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